ECR checks the Union’s external action

Environment - August 9, 2023

From the very beginning of its term in office, the European Commission has participated in various UN conventions by sending a delegation of Commission representatives to conferences of states, including the following: the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, the Conference of the Parties on Biological Diversity, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

These conventions include i.a. a commitment to the climate change theory to the point that “lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason” for postponing measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its effects (Article 3.3 of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change).

With regards to the 1994 UN Convention to Combat Desertification, nine EU countries are considered to be subject to desertification and therefore entitled for help:  Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.  However, no fund from the said Convention is to be seen in Spain’s current National Strategy to combat desertification.

The 2000 Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, also called the Palermo Convention, prosecutes the facilitation of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which that person is not a national or a permanent resident for the purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit (Annex III, Article 3).  And yet many NGOs financed by the European Union are calling through their action to the perpetration of this organised transnational crime.

As for the 1992 Conference of the Parties on Biological Diversity, it requires the presentation of national reports by each country.  That of Spain corresponding to the period up to 2030 states that “climate change is already having an impact on biodiversity”.  However, it completely fails to quantify such impact; for all evidence, it goes on to say that “scenarios predict climate change to have mostly negative effects” and that “climate change multiplies threats to biodiversity when combined with other drivers of global change”.

Under the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Parties thereto have gathered in Geneva from 1 to 12 May 2023.  Among other items, they have agreed to urge those that have not updated their implementation plans to enhance their efforts to do so and transmit their plans as soon as possible.  Spain’s national implementation plan was presented in 2007 and it was suggested that a first revision would be done four years later, which has not been the case.

The 2003 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control recently launched its 2023 report.  Among the donors and attendees to the official presentation was Bloomberg Philanthropies, a charity which promotes abortion and contraception in various continents, in coordination with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as Planned Parenthood.

Finally, the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has only been ratified by 11 EU Member states.  This looks as a rather sharp contrast to the EU focus on biodiversity.  Spain, which signed the convention in 1986, is among those Member States not having ratified it.

On 27 April 2023, ECR Party Vice President Jorge Buxadé officially asked the European Commission what its role in those conferences is.  Commissioner Sinkevičius has answered that it is for the Commission to ensure the external representation of the European Union according to Article 17(1) of the Treaty on EU.  On this basis, the Commission regularly represents the Union in conferences of the parties of international agreements to which the Union is a party.

However, there is one important exception to the Commission’s legitimacy to act, namely, the Common Foreign and Security Policy.  According to Title V of the Treaty on EU, security, environment and economy belong to such policy, where both the Council and the Commission should cooperate.  It seems clear that all the mentioned conferences fall within security, environment and economy (with perhaps the sole exception of tobacco, having a health impact on top of its economic component).  Therefore, the Commission’s answer to Mr. Buxade’s request seems quite insatisfactory.

The Spanish MEP has further requested an explanation on the procedure for adopting the Commission’s position at said conferences.  The answer on behalf of the Commission clarifies the procedure for adopting a EU position on acts having legal effects, that is, through a Council decision under Article 218(9) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

According to the VOX official, the Commission could not be taking on board the views of all of the Commission’s relevant bodies and services via an interdepartmental consultation process so as to prepare its common position.  The Commission assures that all of its services, as well as the European External Action Service, are consulted when preparing the Union position, though for the sake of transparence no further detail has been provided.